What Is a Winning Project?
A winning project has the following key components:
- Social Impact – providing low income communities with greater access to goods/services, and/or income generation opportunities.
- Sustainability – enterprises need to have been operational for at least two years and demonstrate they are on a pathway to organizational and financial self-sufficiency.
- Growth Potential – proposals should exhibit potential for being replicable/scalable and be of potential interest to social investors and/or mainstream venture investors and financial institutions.
- Innovation – the extent to which the organization and project have innovative and inclusive approaches to lowering costs and enhancing affordability.
As the DM enters its second decade, it faces a new set of challenges. While a thousand ideas are blooming, the numbers that go on to have systemic impact are few. "Going to Scale" involves many things. To start, a proof of concept has to be established and a viable business model defined. They then must be tested, followed by a phased roll out. Inevitably, it is a trial and error process that needs patient capital. The entrepreneur feels less isolated and the challenges appear less daunting if they have access to a range of technical and financial resources. Finally, scaling requires access to finance at all stages of the growth process. And this support has to be provided at scale and at affordable costs. Therefore, as DM enters the second decade it is deploying its grant making capacity to catalyze the emergence of an intermediation infrastructure that can wholesale a "Capital +" approach: growth finance accompanied by supporting mentoring and enterprise management advisory services.
We know we don’t have all the answers. There innovative solutions to meet these challenges come from all around the world and no one organization can do it alone. As we implement and learn from our experience we will be focusing on the following questions:
- Which business models are most effective and sustainable in delivering goods and services to the poor?
- How do we construct simple and robust measures of social impact, scalability, and financial sustainability?
- How do we scale up provision of low cost customized technical assistance and mentoring services?
- How do we construct a coalition of funders that collectively provide social entrepreneurs with a predictable pathway to growth finance that enable projects to go to scale?
- How do we address the most pressing and immediate need of growth ready social enterprises -- access to working capital?
- How can we influence governments to develop policies and enabling environments that support taking successful social enterprises to scale?